By Adelola Amihere
The Mutual Union of Tiv in America (MUTA) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent action to ensure the safe return of a million Tiv and other citizens displaced by violence in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
A statement signed by Prof. Joseph Zume and Engr. Simon Kusugh on behalf of MUTA said they were concerned that about a million citizens, most of them fellow Tiv kinsmen have remained cut off from their communities for several years, with no government policy plan to return them to their homes.
The statement read in parts, ” It is important that the displaced people return to their communities to end the many years of want and squalor. Most of these people are small holder farmers who depend on the soil for their livelihood.
“The impact of the years already spent away from home will be felt, not just by the people experiencing the displacement but by their succeeding generations. Life in the IDP camps is simply unimaginable. Sanitation is non-existent and daily living conditions are horrendous and untenable.
“IDP camps are terrains of mass starvation. For people who used to produce their own food and contribute effectively to the Nigerian food value chain, having to helplessly rely on the benevolence of others for daily survival is both humiliating and intolerable”
“The most heartbreaking effects of the displacements have been on children, thousands of whom have been deprived the opportunity to education. When a child misses one year of schooling, he or she might recover, but when a child cannot go to school year after year, that child stands a little chance of having a successful educational experience.”
They therefore posited that it is essential that government come out with a resettlement plan and take needed actions to provide security and economic empowerment for the displaced families to return to their communities.
They observed that while most of the displaced persons have expressed the desire to return to their communities, this has not been possible because of continuing insecurity as the few who went back to their communities in an attempt to rebuild their lives were killed by the occupying herders.
“We interpret these killings, displacements and land grabbing as part of a larger ethnic cleansing agenda against the Tiv. We demand that the Federal Government provides the necessary security and facilitates the return of the displaced people to their rightful communities and with full citizenship rights
“We want to point out that while we are not against Fulani herdsmen residing and legally practicing their trade in Benue, it is only necessary that they be good neighbours, posing no security threat to the local communities.,” the statenent added.